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What's The Point Of Always-On Pedals?

Published on 10 May 2019

In this episode we discuss the concept of ‘Always-On’ pedals with some practical examples of how you might use them. Lots of people use a particular overdrive or preamp; perhaps a compressor or a slapback echo as their always-on pedal. We propose that they fall into four basic categories that may be functional, tonal or both. 1. Buffers; 2: Tone/EQ shaping; 3: Gain and dynamics; 4:A specific effect, eg reverb, delay etc.
Clearly you can use any pedal as an always-on pedal, but here were are attempting to narrow the discussion a little bit in our area of all-round rock, blues and roots playing, and offer some useful ways to proceed if you’re new to this train of thought.
No doubt there will be plenty of questions arising – Ladbrokes has great odds on a million questions about buffers again. We’ll address it in Monday’s VCQ. But if you’re confused just remeber three things: 1. Buffers give you noticeable high-end and presence back if your signal chain is suffering from capacitance-induced dullness. 2.… Make most vintage overdrives and fuzzes sound rubbish when placed before them. 3. If you use loads of true-bypass pedals chained together and no loop switcher, you might benefit from one… Try it before and after your overdrives. We prefer them after.
And, 'What about EQ pedals? Surely they are a prime example of an always-on pedal?' Yes. We talk about EQ, but not necessarily in the context of a specific EQ pedal.
Anyway, enjoy the show…

Pedals & stuff in this episode…

• TheGigRig Three2One

• TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini - No longer made, link to latest version
UK & Europe:

• Benson Preamp
UK & Europe:

• Fender Level Set Buffer
UK & Europe:

• Taurus Servo

• JHS Clover
UK & Europe:

• Keeley D&M Drive
UK & Europe:

• Snouse Black Box OD2
UK & Europe:

• Origin Effects Cali76 Stacked Edition
UK & Europe:

• Boss DM-2w Waza Craft Delay
UK & Europe:

• Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb
UK & Europe:

• TheGigRig G2

* Why do we have preferred retailer links? Find out here:

Interesting bits and go-to sections…
- Intro playing: 0:00
- What are we doing today?: 1:26
- Why use an always-on pedal? 2:52
- The four main types of always-on pedal? 6:12
- Buffers: 6:55 (11:25)
- Today’s amps: 9:40 (Hiwatt:10:10. AC30: 10:35)
- Buffer plus the Snouse Black Box 2: 12:45
- Topanga Reverb: 18:27
- Taurus Servo: 21:35
- Benson Preamp: 30:37
- …and with an overdrive pedal: 41:10
- JHS Clover: 43:42 (Vox: 45:59. Hiwatt: 46:39)
- …for sparklier sounds with the guitar volume rolled down: 49:20
- …and with an overdrive pedal: 51:12
- Origin Effects Cali76 Stacked Edition compressor: 52:30
- …the importance of the dry signal mix: 54:30
- …and running overdrive before compression: 57:40
- Boss DM-2w: short delay as an always-on effect: 1:02:59 (1:04:37)
- Let’s hear some stuff into both amps: 1:06:20
- Conclusions and final thoughts: 1:08:58

Guitars in this episode:
• Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster – Mick’s video at
• Fender Custom Shop ’63 Telecaster – Dan’s video at
• Gibson Custom 1958 Les Paul Standard – watch Dan’s video at
• Gibson Memphis 1958 ES-335 - no video yet

Amps in this episode
• Hiwatt DR-103 Custom 100 (1973) with Marshall 1960AX cabinet/Celestion G12M Greenback speakers
• Vox AC30 (1961) with Celestion Alnico Blue speakers

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